Community in online courses is evidenced in a course where the players, students and instructors, feel connected with each other through the use of various mediums online, and in a course where the players are concerned in likeness for academic success. (Wallace, 2003)
Instructors have an important role to manage the flow of content, and support social interaction in a course. When instructors actively participate in their course, they typically find an increase in student engagement. Research has shown significant correlations between strong instructor presence and higher student participation as well as increased student satisfaction. Instructors can interact with their students in a variety of ways including: prompt assignment feedback, engaging in student discussions, and announcements. Below are some examples.
Best Practices and Examples
Project Based Learning
- Instructors can model projects to mirror practical applications students may use in the workforce.
- Trusting relationships form between students and instructor when expectations regarding project outcomes and approach are clearly expressed from the beginning, and when intermittent feedback regarding students’ progress is given.
- Social Constructivist theory states that learning concepts require exchanging, sharing, and negotiation, as well as drawing on the knowledge of experts (Lui et al., 2001)
- Instructor feedback in peer reviewed assignments or projects can validate peer comments, or refute and challenge students to think more critically about their own work and the work of their peers.
- Increase informative and trusting relationships between students, and between students and the instructors, by providing a venue to communicate such as a general course discussion forum.
- Send out reminders about important deadlines or assignments coming up in a course to empower students to be more responsible.
- Alert students that their inquiries are heard and given value by sending out a course-wide announcement addressing them.
- Events, updates
- Lui et al. (201). Web-Based Peer Review: The Learning as both Adapter and Reviewer. IEEE Transactions on Education, Vol. 44, No. 3: 246-251
- Wallace, R. M. (2003). Online Learning in Higher Education: a review of research on interactions among teachers and students. Education, Communication & Information, 3(2), 241. Available at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1080/14636310303143#tabModule
- For outlines of the models of teacher roles (Goodyear and colleagues, 2001) and a list of support models in online courses (Bonk and colleagues (2000) and see page 259.
- Salmon, G. (2004) E-moderating: the key to teaching and learning online (London, Kogan Page). Available at https://cewebs.cs.univie.ac.at/pm-ss/ws04/Files/E-Moderating.pdf
- Karen Swan (2001s Virtual interaction: Design factors affecting student satisfaction and perceived learning in asynchronous online courses, Distance Education, 22:2, 306-331, DOI: 10.1080/0158791010220208. Available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0158791010220208